Made In Oklahoma: Gun Manufacturer Wants To Set Up In Creek County
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma - A new gun manufacturing business wants to set up shop and start making firearms in Creek County.
Valor Arms Company has a vision to build its firearms manufacturing on a county-owned piece of land. It's a plan the company said could bring big money to Creek County.
With the Turner Turnpike on one side and Highway 33 on the other, it's the perfect place to build a firearms manufacturing plant, Valor Arms retail operations manager, Aaron DeBorde said.
“It actually fits our needs. If we can come to an agreement, it would be a great location,” DeBorde said.
Valor Arms is a new company with a retail store set to open in Sapulpa this week. The company was started by the owners of Janeway Machine - a successful Sapulpa business that makes parts primarily for the aerospace industry.
“It just makes sense being that they are already a very capable machine shop that we branch into firearms manufacturing,” DeBorde said. “There won't be a company like this. We are changing the industry, and that's what we're really wanting to do.”
DeBorde said Valor Arms is in negotiations to build firearms for weapons design company Leitner-Wise. He said the company is considering moving its headquarters to Oklahoma.
According to DeBorde, Leitner-Wise is one of 12 companies invited by the Department of Defense to build a new gun for soldiers. If the Leitner-Wise prototype is selected, DeBorde said that contract would be worth $170 million.
DeBorde wants that weapon to be made in Oklahoma specifically Creek County.
“There's a lot of moving pieces to this. It's not just a DOD contract, that's just part of it,” DeBorde said. “But we need to be preparing for if that contract does come around, that we can fulfill it.”
DeBorde said the company’s research shows Creek County residents shell out $17 million a year on firearms and related items, but said the majority of that money is spent outside the county.
He said 27-percent of firearm owners are women.
“It used to be where you had hunters and people who enjoyed sport-shooting, and now it's turned into a family lifestyle,” he said.
DeBorde went before Creek County Commissioners Monday, looking to secure a long-term lease for the 225-acre plot of county-owned property where Valor Arms wants to build its plant. The Janeway’s were in the front row.
“It's not something that can just happen today. That's not our decision,” Commissioner Newt Stephens told DeBorde.
Commissioners said they like the idea but said the county can’t sign a long-term lease. In order for that to happen, commissioners said the land needs to be put in an Industrial Authority Trust.
“There's some hurdles we're gonna have to get past, but, at the end of the day, I think we can accomplish it,” Commissioner Rick Stewart said.
DeBorde said the weapons plant would bring up to 20 jobs, in the beginning, with a $50,000 salary. He expects it would grow substantially in a five-year period.
“It could be 200 jobs. The sky's the limit. It's just a matter of how much work we have and how many contracts we get,” DeBorde said.
If all goes as planned on Valor Arms' end, DeBorde said the manufacturing site would have a gun range and retail shop, and estimates the company could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the Creek County economy.
“This could be a shot in the arm that Creek County has needed for a long time,” Stewart said.
If the land goes into a trust with the Industrial Authority, Creek County Commissioners would still have to approve any deals made with Valor Arms.